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Signs that a child could be being bullied

According to the Anti-Bullying Alliance, children in care are four times more likely to be bullied in secondary school. Looked after children can face a number of challenges in school, often having to adjust to new people and placements, and losing contact with their friends.

As part of Anti-Bullying Week, which runs from November 11th – 15th, we want to help parents and carers recognise some of the warning signs that suggest a child could be being bullied at school.

1. Worried about going to school

It’s normal for children to complain about going back to school after the holidays, but it’s unusual for a child that enjoys school to suddenly become less willing to attend. If you’re finding that a child is becoming increasingly reluctant to go to school each morning, and there is no other explanation for this change, it’s possible they could be experiencing problems with bullying.

2. Changes in behaviour and mood

Changes to a child’s behaviour and mood can be one of the biggest signals that they’re being bullied/ Children may become more anxious, worried and quiet. They might also feel more nervous about leaving the house. If you notice and sudden changes, try and engage with the child; show you’re willing to listen and be there for them.

3. Missing or damaged possessions

When a child is being bullied, their belongings can sometimes be damaged or stolen. If you’re noticing that a child’s possessions are going missing and they can’t tell you why, or if they’re damaged and they have no explanation for it, this could be a sign that they’re being targeted by another child. It’s important to explore this with the child’s teacher or school to see if they are aware of the situation.

4. Unexplained injuries

Bullying comes in many forms and some children can experience physical bullying and violence. If you start to notice bruising, cuts and other marks, and if those injuries can’t be explained, it could mean that a child is being bullied and is reluctant to tell anyone.

5. Not doing as well with their schoolwork

Being bulied can increase anxiety and distract a child, and this can be spotted in their schoolwork. If grades suddenly drop or schoolwork isn’t being completed, it could be a sign of bullying.

6. Online issues

Cyber bullying is sometimes harder to spot but can be the most difficult form of bullying, with children feeling like there’s no escape from it. It’s important to talk to your child about how to be safe online, and how to get support if they start to experience difficulty or upset.

At Five Rivers, we feel it’s important for families to have conversations with children about bullying and ensure they’re happy at school, as well as at home. For more advice on physical and online bullying, visit the National Bullying Helpline or CyberSmileUK.

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